Goals at the end of each of half from Justin Amaluzor and Ryan Glover sealed victory for The Shots on an afternoon where despite brand new signing’s starting from the outset and both Josh Taylor and Matt Briggs coming off the bench in the second half, Wanderers were unable to halt a fourth straight league defeat, leaving them without a National League win in 2023 and now just two points off the relegation zone.
Marc White made five changes to the side which started against Solihull Moors last weekend, handing immediate debuts to new recruits George Francomb and the returning Jason Prior as Luke Moore and Harry Ottaway respectively made way. There were two enforced changes in defence with Ed Harris injured in midweek and Joe Cook suspended following his red card last weekend, so Dan Gallagher and Isaac Philpot were recalled to the back three. Nicky Wheeler coming in for Jimmy Muitt wide right was the other change to the starting eleven, with Josh Taylor and Matt Briggs both named on the bench. For Taylor it would be a first inclusion since early December, whilst Briggs would be involved in a competitive matchday for the first time in 11 months.
The pace of Justin Amaluzor cutting in from the right led to an early, key interception from Gallagher in the opening minutes as The Shots began brighter, but it wasn’t until midway through the first half the game started to come alive and clear chances were beginning to be created. Amaluzor again got joy darting inside from the right flank, shifting the ball on to Tommy Willard on the opposite side of the penalty area, the attacker forcing a near post save from Lincoln. Minutes later Wanderers first opportunity of the game arrived, McShane clipping a ball over the top to release Prior making a run out to the right flank, his half-vollied cross was met with a diving header from Seager, who directed the ball over the bar from several yards out.
It had been a fairly even, steadily paced game through the opening half hour, both teams guilty of sloppy retention of the ball, but in the run up to half-time The Shots began to turn the screw in the attacking third. Ryan Glover picked up space between the lines and went close to finding Inih Effiong and Willard with a reverse pass and measured through ball respectively before Amaluzor gathered the ball at the edge of the area and drove a shot over the bar as Wanderers struggled to clear their lines. Francomb and Gallagher stood up well to deny successive Effiong shots at really close range, but the increasing pressure did lead to a breakthrough for Ross McNeilly’s side just a few minutes before half-time. Driving into space in the left channel, Effiong cut in and forced Lincoln into a reaction save at his near post, but Amaluzor was fastest to react to the loose ball, and hammered home from the middle of the box.
Shortly after the restart Ollie Harfield’s free kick was nodded fractionally wide of the post by Tyler Cordner up from the back, and not seeing much improvement from his side in terms of getting on the front foot, Marc White made three changes just before the hour, introducing Luke Moore, Josh Taylor and Matt Briggs from the bench to freshen things up.
It was not long after the string of changes that Wanderers would go as close as they would throughout the second period to grabbing a goal; a corner ball not properly cleared and landing for McShane at the edge of the box, the club’s top scorer bending a strike off the post and then unfortunate to then see it rebound off the back of goalkeeper Luca Ashby-Hammond and bounce away from danger.
As they had done in the opening forty-five minutes, the home side again began to crank up the attacking pressure entering the latter stages of the half; Effiong spurning a golden chance after just about staying onside and latching on to a ball poked through from the left flank, the striker firing a low effort marginally wide when faced up one-on-one with Lincoln. Substitute Josh McQuiod came on for Tommy Willard, and operating more centrally, had gotten on the end of a couple of chances, including glacing a free header just wide at the back post, not able to quite get over the top of it.
With a couple minutes of regulation time left on the clock, The Shots managed to kill the game off for sure; skipper Matt Partington delivering a cross into a dangerous area from the right channel, and Glover was available to guide a header into the bottom left corner of goal from twelve yards out.
Into stoppage time Briggs nearly marked his return to the side with a goal, taking down a ball over the top and looking to lob Ashby-Hammond from the edge of the box, but the ball took a deflection and drifted wide for a corner kick. Amaluzor brought Lincoln into action with a strong diving save down to his right, the last kick of the game as Aldershot got over the line with the three points and clean sheet.
The presence of Francomb and Prior certainly made Wanderers look more collectively solid on an afternoon where a much changed team, altered further with the returns of Josh Taylor and Matt Briggs in the second half just couldn’t carve out enough chances across the ninety minutes. An organised Shots, with real threat up top from the physicality and movement of Amaluzor, Glover and Effiong in particular by contrast did create enough opportunities and were clinical at key times to ultimately secure the win.
Both sides now take a break from the league but return to The EBB Stadium next Saturday afternoon to face each other again in the FA Trophy 5th round.